A new study's results reveal that common painkillers such as ibuprofen may help reduce death risk among the elderly.
The research found that the group of medicines, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), did not increase the risk of heart attack in older people.
AdvertisementIn earlier studies, researchers have suggested that there were risks linked to the use of painkilling drugs in older people.
They also found that the use of these drugs was linked with a lower risk of death, but the reason behind this was still a mystery.
The report was based on a study, which looked at hospital admission and pharmacy prescription information for 320,000 Australian veterans.
The study focused on anti-inflammatory drugs that, with the exception of ibuprofen, generally require a prescription.
"Thinking up until now suggests that the use of anti-inflammatory drugs ... increases the risk of heart disease," the Scotsman quoted Professor Arduino Mangoni, who led the study, as saying.
"However, the evidence of a link between NSAIDs and heart disease is controversial as several studies have failed to demonstrate a significant increase in the risk.
"Unlike previous studies we did not observe an increased risk of heart disease after considering NSAIDs as a whole, their sub-classes, and several individual drugs.
"In fact our study has demonstrated that the use of NSAIDs has overall a neutral effect on the risk of heart disease in a large elderly population with multiple co-existing medical conditions," he added.
Mangoni said he believed the link between NSAIDs and mortality could be due to a number of factors.
"It could be that anti-inflammatory drugs could exert some protective effects towards heart disease and cancer, the two main killers in our ageing population.
"It might be that people on these drugs have better pain control and therefore a less sedentary lifestyle. Or perhaps people on these drugs in our study were generally healthier," he added.
But he advised people not to take painkillers regularly unless they were necessary.
The study has been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
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